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Life without a hot water heater would not be very pleasant. Just imagine having to get up one morning only to step into an ice cold shower because the water heater was not working. This scenario is one that is played out every day somewhere in the country. If you are in the market for a new hot water heater, whether looking for a larger size or simply replacing one that has seen better days, you want to choose wisely. If you do not take your time and choose the right water heater for your needs, you will actually increase your monthly utility bills.

First, the size of your family will play an important role in your decision. Obviously, the more people, the more showers and laundry there will be. Although there are a number of styles, the storage tank, water heater is the one that you typically see in a home. This particular water heater is insulated. The water is heated to the temperature you choose and then stored within the unit until it is needed for a shower, washing dishes, or doing laundry. To help you determine the gallon size for your home, the following is a great guideline:
  • Two people � 30 to 40 gallons
  • Three people � 40 gallons
  • Four people � 40 to 50 gallons
  • Five people or more � 50 to 80 gallons
In addition to size, you will have a choice of a water heater that is electric, natural gas, or liquid propane (LP). When it comes to the cost of operation, the natural and liquid propane are the lease expensive to operate in that they use less energy. Other valuable information to help you with your choice includes:
  • Water heaters are designed to hold specific gallons of water, which is a major consideration when choosing
  • You also want to consider what is known as �recovery rate�. This is the number of gallons of water that is heated per hour. The more hot water you use the higher recovery rate you will need.

  • For saving money, you want to look at the energy efficiency of the water heater. Check out the Energy Star label to compare between one model or water heater to another before settling.

  • Make sure you have the measurements for the space where the water heater will be placed. Since heaters come in different sizes, you want to make sure it fits. Additionally, there are guidelines for homeowners to follow. For instance, FHA requires that hot water heaters be 18 inches or higher off the floor if placed within a garage. Therefore, if the heater were lower than this previously, now would be the time to create a stand or place cinder blocks to meet this requirement.
Just remember that if you buy a hot water heater and the size of your family increases, you can always upgrade to a larger tank. Additionally, if you have a shed, detached garage, or some type of out building, you can purchase a small storage tank known as a Point of Use, Mobile Home, or Utility water heater, which can be used to bring hot water away from the home.

The other popular type of hot water heater is called an On-Demand or Tankless. This particular water heater does not store water like the storage tank option. Instead, as the water is heated, it is then passed through various coils designed within the heater. Since hot water is not stored and maintained at a certain degree until used but heated only as needed, this is a more cost effective option. Just like the storage tank, the tankless water heater is also available in electric, natural gas, or liquid propane.
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